Thursday, April 26, 2007

13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson

I will interject a quick "I loved this book!" before I give you the musings, once again, of Hannah Howard:

If only we could all have summers like the one Ginny, the main character of the book, has in Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes! In the book, Ginny, a naïve and shy seventeen year old is lead on a wild, whirlwind tour of Europe by envelopes left for her by her Aunt Peg. Ginny travels from London to Copenhagen to Rome and points in between, all the while managing to fall in love and discover lots about herself in the process. Yes, this would be the moment where the alarm clock goes off and we all wake up from bed.

It is a little implausible, but who cares? Johnson’s book is so entertaining and delicious it hardly matters that the situation is kinda unbelievable. Would you really wanna read a book about a normal summer anyways?

Plus, we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Ginny. She’s ready to change and tired of being a kid, but she’s afraid to grow up, too. But when she’s forced to do it, she finds a lot within herself that she never suspected was there.

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes is a great, quick read that is highly entertaining and leaves you wishing you had a wildly interesting aunt to send you on a trip to Europe, too. Pack it in your bag when you hit the beach, and who knows, you may just end up leaving impromptu for a beach halfway across the world.

Bob Dylan's CHRONICLES volume one

Since I haven't been posting even the tiniest bit in quite a long time, I have some catching up to do. To expedite this I am calling in some guest writers. The first is Hannah Howard who got me into this mess with her essay about A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY and how it is cruel to make high school students read books they don't like over summer vacation. So she brought this "guest blogging" upon herself. And here's Hannah:

Forget all those English class lessons about plot lines, because they’re totally and absolutlely nonapplicable to this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, just don’t read it expecting a plot line, because you’re gonna end up hating it. Chronicles chronicles (ha-ha) events in Dylan’s life, ranging from his experiences as a small-town folk singer to hardships he later has escaping the paparazzi. It time travels like there’s no tomorrow, and I’m really wondering whether Dylan has ADD or something. That said, I absolutely loved Chronicles. Somehow, Dylan makes all the weird and possibly annoying stuff work in this book.

What really saves it is Dylan’s prose. Dylan is a great songwriter and storyteller and that really comes out in this book. There’s so much quotable material, I had to restrain myself from underlining like a crazy person. He somehow makes the weirdest things make sense, how I don’t really know, but then again that’s part of his genius.

Dylan has had, hands down, one of the most interesting lives of the twentieth century and has got quite a bit of advice because of it, but the book never feels preachy or stuffy. Dylan remains, as always, the cool king of youth and revolution.

The only bad thing about this book is that it can get a little pop culture heavy at times. Dylan increasingly references musicians that I had absolutely no idea ever existed, but that’s really the worst of it. If you can get through that, then Chronicles is really worth reading. It’s a great book and an entertaining read, and I highly recommend it to everyone, not just the beat poets and political dissidents out there.